Hoàn Kiếm Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake Looking up Hoàn Kiếm Lake from the south end, the Tháp Ràu monument is in the foreground and the Ngọc Sơn Pagoda and Thê Húc Bridge are in the distance Hoàn Kiếm Lake in central Hà Nội is the equivalent of Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park rolled into one. It is the noisy bustling focal point, not just of the city, but the whole of Vietnam. It is also a place of calm, recreation and restoration. Go to another page. Thousands of foreigners, locals and Vietnamese tourists alike come here every day to stroll, to meet or to take exercise. Sitting near the Lake. The water, trees, and monuments provide peace within the city centre, although nearby not all the architecture is graceful, here modernism is provided by the head post office Woman under tree. However, around the Lake all prospects are of water and trees Refreshments kiosk This small kiosk on the east side is paired with a cafe across the water - only these two are allowed within the grounds of the Lake The Lake is some 600 metres by 200 metres and very shallow. It has two islands the larger with a pagoda - Ngọc Sơn, the other with a memorial structure called Tháp Ràu. Pathways, seats, flowerbeds and trees surround the water, with few commercial intrusions. Women cleaning the Lake. Not only are the paths around the Lake cleaned continuously, but the water itself carefully combed of debris each morning - the woman passing holds her nose! Gardeners sleeping on bench. Forty winks for the gardeners Security man sitting. Security, in the area around the Lake, is provided by uniformed citizens, most of whom end up somewhere between disinterest and boredom To keep the area around the Lake in order groups of gardeners, cleaners and security personnel are active throughout the day and evening. The rules needing enforced (by the security workers) are displayed on large boards and include the prevention of anyone going into the water, fishing or selling goods or services. Youth selling baskets. Hawking by the Lake is strictly forbidden, the Lake can be seen 100 metres away between the trees, this boy works the surrounding roads... Woman selling fruit. ...however, many people quietly sell food, books and postcards by the Lake - the security personnel are uniformed and easily seen as they approach! Tree by Lake. The trees that line the Lake are mostly evergreen including many jacarandas and a large variety of specimens complete with their identifying labels Street turned to flower beds. On special occasions - this was western New Year - the four lane road on the east side of the Lake is closed and turned into a kilometre long garden complete with carved birds Kingfisher Surprisingly, in the centre of a sprawling densely packed eastern metropolis of over seven million people, kingfishers find enough food in the Lake The Lake's most famous residents are the turtles, a large one of these can be seen stuffed in the Ngọc Sơn Pagoda at the north end of the Lake, but small ones are often visible in the water. Flower display Another display of flowers taking over the street beside the Lake Most images of the Lake take care to restrict the view to its delights, but in most directions, beyond the trees, the prospect is less pleasing. Buildings from the era of friendship with the USSR are grim enough, but these are now dwarfed by 30 story banks. War memorial. Opposite (across the road from) the Ngọc Sơn Pagoda, is the war memorial: opposite in almost every meaning of the word Boat on the Lake. Boats are never to be seen on the Lake; not disturbing the fish and turtles is de rigueur. However in 2011 the Lake was drained in sections and cleaned, this sight was part of that process. Some of the equipment used can be seen on the island Towering above the 'Council Chambers' are the two towers of the BIVD and Vietcom Banks. Such 30 storey buildings have mushroomed across Hà Nội in the last few years. Until 10 years ago there were few buildings over 20 stories, now there are a number over 50, and whole districts near that height. Hanoians do want to guard the area around the Lake from these intrusions, but money's leverage is similar in every country Two bank towers The 'Council Chambers' with the two towers of the BIVD and Vietcom Banks behind The art and architecture of the USSR entered Vietnam just at the time of Soviet Brutalism. The Hồ Chí Minh Museum is another fine example of the style. Now it is more of historic rather than aesthetic significance, and 'Brutalism', in the public mind, has turned from meaning raw to meaning brutal. An epithet emphasised when such buildings sit next to the almost bucolic Hoàn Kiếm Lake. Ha Noi's main post office Hà Nội's main post office - described by some as an example of Soviet 'Brutalist' architecture Ha Noi City Committee Building This building is roughly the equivalent of British 'Council Chambers' being the meeting place of the Hà Nội City Peoples' Committee Two men standing A picture of one side of the entrance to the Ngọc Sơn Pagoda, notice the grass and colour of the character Ngoc Son gate This picture was taken six years later. The gate leads onto the beautiful Thê Húc Bridge, and so to the Ngọc Sơn Pagoda at the head of the Lake Gates to Ly Thai To memorial. On the west side, directly across the Lake from the square named after him, is the memorial garden for the national hero Lý Thái Tổ Go to another page. The next page shows something of the Lake in its role as social centre. Four women meeting in the cool of early morning. line
Saturday 16th April 2016 Murphy

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